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Using Artificial Intelligence to build a great future for CX

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

AI is already here and it’s revolutionising the way businesses manage their data to transform the customer experience (CX).  Henry Jinman, Commercial Director at EBI.AI, says it pays to tread with caution, despite all the success stories and shares his top 3 Tips for before you begin…

No longer confined to the realms of science fiction, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here and companies are waking up to the potential of machine learning to push the boundaries of customer interactions and drive effective CX strategies.  The truth is AI is totally revolutionising our approach to data through its amazing ability to capture, process and analyse masses of unstructured data across the business.  By automating customer contact management, data recording and analysis processes, AI can readily identify patterns of consumer behaviour that give contact centres and customer service operations a new competitive edge.  With vital customer intelligence at their fingertips, frontline staff are able to push out targeted sales content, pre-empt what customers will purchase in the future and predict their loyalty and value to the business.   

Here are just two real-life success stories to prove it.  Royal Bank of Scotland manages 17 million customers but managed to raise its Net Promotor Score by 18 points unanimously after deploying AI while US telecommunications giant Sprint achieved a 14% increase in customer retention in just six months, simultaneously overcoming an industry-high in turnover rates.

The beauty of Artificial Intelligence is that it is truly democratic.  The wonders of the Cloud mean it is readily available and accessible to all sizes of enterprise.  Now is the time to consider what AI can do for customer service in your organisation but stop before leaping in.  Learn from those who have already gone through the process and follow a few simple guidelines to ensure a successful AI implementation that optimises CX and futureproofs customer loyalty.

Three things to do before you begin

  1. Learn from the past – the major lesson is to tread carefully.  As with all new technologies, instinct tells us to rush in for fear of being left behind the competition or because we believe the latest innovation will be an instant cure-all for everything.  Think back 20 years to when the new mobile, Internet-enabled generation first grabbed the headlines.  Unfortunately, the marketing hype caused a lot of grief with businesses investing in technology that their customers just weren’t ready for!  Similarly, many organisations today deploy AI without really understanding how it is going to benefit their customers or the business.  Instead, businesses should take an inclusive strategy to adopting AI with the emphasis on customer needs and outcomes.
  2. Draw inspiration from real-life successes – EBI.AI has seen first-hand how AI is transforming customer service.  Take Get Living, the largest operator in the UK’s build-to-rent sector.  The company is providing a seamless move-in experience for 500 new homes at the former London 2012 Olympics Athletes’ Village with the help of a virtual AI assistant based on Google Home.  The Get Living Assistant helps people settle in to their new home, from letting them know where they can buy groceries down to giving instructions on how to use their induction hob.  The more residents use the bot, the smarter it becomes while special feedback functionality is crucial to understanding residents’ needs so that Get Living can continually improve its personal service and rental offer.
  3. Get it right first time around – by following a few simple rules:
  • Involve the right people from the very beginning so that when frustration strikes, you’ll have allies who are incentivised to make your AI project successful.
    Avoid over-expectations by educating stakeholders about the limitations of AI technology, explaining what it is and what it isn’t.  Be realistic when sharing  timeframes for results – machine-learning takes time to perfect!
  • Have a plan, start small and don’t go beyond your organisation’s capabilities.
  • Take time to assess the marketplace – engage with experts who understand the complexities of AI but are energised to find creative ways of realising its potential for great customer service.
  • Put data at the heart of AI design.  To build an effective bot, you need access to relevant customer data and you need to train the bot to answer the questions that really matter to customers.

What does the future of AI look like?
The predictive qualities of AI will create a world of augmented intelligence not just artificial intelligence.  Blending AI into their CX platform, organisations will be able to react in real-time with the next best action regardless of how customers engage or where they are on the brand journey.

What is more, as AI enhances rather than replaces human beings, companies should expect to enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship between man and machine that adds a completely new dimension to the customer experience.

Dynamic FAQs improve customer experience and reduce customer contact

150 150 Stuart O'Brien

By ContactOne

Today’s web users are increasingly relying on the Internet as a prime source of information and are more likely to use FAQ based solutions for answers. On the plus side this trend can be leveraged to reduce the propensity for on-line visitors to contact Agents.

The flip side of this is that the traditional static help centre solutions are not optimised to take advantage of this as customers often need to leave the webpage of interest to find help in the static FAQ section.

1 – Static Help Centre vs Dynamic FAQs

Dynamic FAQs, from ContactOne, address these issues by enabling the users to get the answers they need without leaving the page. The AI predicts users, queries based on contextually mapping web page content. Website visitors are then presented with a list of relevant help articles, without having to leave their current page.

This means that customers get instant answers to their queries without having to use the contact centre, resulting in positive impacts to the customer journey:

  • Site abandonment drops
  • Encourages self-service
  • Contact deflection increases
  • Sales conversion increases
  • Customer satisfaction increases

Our Dynamic FAQs include an intuitive search function based on partial keywords, phonetic matching, managed plurals and extensions with the returned results prioritised based on tags, titles, content and keywords. The self-learning capabilities and can optimise presented FAQs based on volume of page views and article rating. It also helps fill in gaps in the FAQs by reporting missed search terms.

2- Real-Time Widgets

Dynamic FAQs has several real-time widgets and reporting modules to show the usage and effectiveness of the FAQs. For each FAQ Supervisors can see both the total number of visitors to that FAQ, along with how many of those visitors went on to contact the contact centre. This enables FAQ answers to be optimised over time to meet the desired objective whether that’s to promote Contact, in the case of sales, or reduce contact in the case of level 1 support / customer service activities.

ContactOne’s Dynamic FAQ solution can be supplied as part of an integration with our own Omni-Channel contact centre platform, or as a standalone solution for use with existing Webchat, Email and Phone systems.

For more information on how ContactOne can help you encourage your website visitors to self-serve and improve the customer experience with Dynamic FAQs call ContactOne on 0330 880 4444 or visit ContactOne on the web.

UK boards must take more responsibility for customer experience – Research

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Customer experience is largely perceived as a strategic issue and one that should be driven at board level, with measurement of CX varying wildly within key industry verticals.

That’s according to research conducted by Gobeyond Partners, which surveyed over 450 managers and above across retail and wholesale, financial services and banking, private healthcare, and insurance, finding that 86% of UK businesses are currently measuring customer experience and that 81% of respondents believe customer experience to be a strategic issue which requires more senior level accountability.

It says the results highlight a clear need for senior executives to be knowledgeable about customer experience, and importantly, measure it across the entire customer journey. The results revealed that 36% of organisations surveyed only measure customer experience at specific touchpoints, and not across the entire customer journey, whilst 12% of UK businesses are still not measuring customer experience at all.

Rather it was those companies who do indeed measure customer experience across the entire customer journey (50%) who were found to be 1.4 times more likely to report revenue increases over the last 12 months, than those that don’t.

Other key findings  include:

  • Of those who agreed customer experience should be driven at board level, only 37% strongly agreed that their company utilises customer feedback to improve service design and delivery;
  • 86% of retail respondents agreed that customer experience should be driven at board level and was the most likely industry to see customer experience as a strategic issue. This was followed closely by 85% of insurance respondents, 77% in banking, 72% in private healthcare and 85% insurance;
  • 12% of UK businesses are not measuring customer experience at all;
  • 11% of businesses said they had no senior manager with accountability for customer experience

Mark Palmer, CEO of Gobeyond Partners, said: “We were pleased to see that our recent survey findings validate the work we have been doing with our clients; namely that customer experience is a human issue which should be addressed strategically and prioritised by the board.

“We regularly recommend looking at the end-to-end customer journey through a more human lens. Our findings clearly highlight that introducing the human touch – at all levels of the journey – can radically transform the way you deliver service. For organisations to win in the race for customer loyalty and stronger profitability, they will need to successfully marry great technology and innovation with a major focus on what this means for customers and employees in the transformation journey. Taking this ‘human lens’ will differentiate the quality of solutions offered, drive greater efficiency in getting there and will better engage their people on the change journey.”

What’s on your CX agenda for 2020?

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From hyper-personalisation to voice search, Nali Giliana, Vice President of Digital Experience at OpenText, shares his customer experience predictions for 2020…

Hyper-personalisation driven by data democratisation

2020 will be the year of hyper-personalisation across the consumer journey. The implementation of data democratisation strategies will be one of the main focal points for marketers in 2020. This will see brands leveraging predictive analytics, utilising data from throughout the business – across departments, partners, suppliers and customers – to build marketing strategies which will allow for contextual and hyper-personalised experiences relevant to the target audience. Leading brands will also push beyond the customer experience, and look into delivering individualised products, services and pricing.

Rise of multi-sensory brand experiences

The ways in which customers will engage with brands will transcend the usual digital and physical touchpoints. In 2020, we can expect to see the user experience undergo a significant shift in how customers perceive the digital world and engage with brands. Key technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) will shift the horizon of experience design by combining perception and interaction models to help create a multisensory approach to brand experiences. As a result, customers will look beyond products and will be loyal to brands that can deliver consistent experiences across all the sensory touchpoints.

Voice search will become a key component of the customer experience

In 2020, the majority of customer interactions will be made by AI. Data generated from these interactions will help marketers a great deal in creating more authentic digital communication experiences beyond traditional digital channels. Voice search, in particular, will see significant uptake next year due to its simplicity, and with the adoption of AI-supported intelligent assistants like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa slated to expand, brands will face added pressure to change the design of their customer experience to include voice search.

Transparency and privacy concerns gain steam

While demand for hyper-personalised customer experiences is increasing brands’ dependency on data, consumer concern about the control of their personal information is also increasing. This dynamic is making organisations more aware of the importance of securing and managing personal data, and governments are implementing strict legislation to ensure organisations do so.

In 2020 enterprises will be called to place greater emphasis on transparency and traceability to support digital ethics and privacy needs through the implementation of practices designed to address regulatory requirements, preserve an ethical approach to the use of advanced technologies, and repair the growing lack of trust in companies.

Tech set to ease CX frustrations in 2020

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Three key issues – taking advantage of Conversational User Interfaces, ensuring effective customer Journey Analytics, and addressing the impact of Peak Voice with augmented solutions – will become even more critical in 2020 if brands are to become more consistent in delivering brilliant customer experiences, says Sabio Group’s Chief Innovation Officer, Stuart Dorman…

More and more CX teams now recognise that pursuing a broad omnichannel customer engagement strategy hasn’t actually enabled the kind of best-in-class customer experiences they were looking to offer. That’s why in 2020 we’ll see an increased emphasis on the shaping and refinement of smarter customer journeys – ones that will help direct people towards the channels and resources that are more appropriate for what they’re trying to achieve.

However, being able to deliver this level of engagement at scale is always going to be challenging. And with Conversational User Interfaces fast becoming the dominant way for customers to begin their engagement with organisations, it’s essential that projects are not only designed and driven by CX operations specialists but also regularly optimised with the latest Journey Analytics tools to identify process and customer experience improvements. At the same time, organisations also need to recognise the increased complexity of voice interactions and provide agents with new levels of augmented support.

Here are our 3 key areas of focus for 2020:

  1. Conversational User Interfaces (CUI) – while it’s comparatively easy for an IT team to use open framework tools to build simple chatbots, it’s a much harder challenge to craft comprehensive virtual assistant solutions that can support a range of customer needs while still delivering high quality service at scale. Achieving success here requires organisations to look beyond key technology components such as speech recognition, natural language understanding and text-to-speech, and instead focus more on ‘the Art of CX’ such as the UI design aspect, the language used and the ongoing refinements that can only come from deep operational engagement.
  2. Journey Analytics – Despite the relative maturity as a technology, it’s surprising how few organisations take advantage of analytics tools to really understand the end-to-end customer journey. Getting this right is complex, however the benefits – whether in terms of identifying where demand is coming from, gathering and analysing customer intent, or refining processes to improve the digital experience – can be significant. Effective journey analytics also help to close the loop with other key CX processes. For example, it’s great to have a contact centre with demand fully optimised, but less good if you don’t know where those calls are coming from in the first place.
  3. Peak Voice – with customers experiencing continually improving self-service options thanks to innovations such as the Conversational User Interface (CUI), organisations are reporting a consequent reduction in voice traffic volumes. However, as the industry moves beyond Peak Voice, the actual complexity of calls coming into contact centres is increasing, along with handling times, as agents are left to deal with the interactions that can’t be resolved through self-service alone. This is placing greater focus on continued improvements to the CUI, as well as the introduction of augmented voice services that effectively add a digital channel in parallel with voice to allow agents and customers to share content during interactions.

Tackling these three challenges and working to streamline the customer journey will unlock huge benefits for both organisations and their customers in 2020 and beyond. However, brands simply can’t rely on virtual assistant or chatbot systems that only deliver one-size-fits-all FAQ-style responses.

As consumer expectations evolve, today’s conversations need to be tailored to customer understanding, they increasingly have to recognise a customer’s intent and mood, and they also have to be agile enough to recover from errors in dialogue or journey disconnects.

Bringing all these elements together and making it simple and intuitive for customers to get what they need from their interaction is where ‘the art of CX’ can make a real difference.

Top 3 predictions for contact centres in 2020

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Rapid change in the contact industry may seem overwhelming but a great place to start 2020 is with people, partners and technology. That’s the message from Puzzel‘s Thomas Rødseth as we welcome in a new decade…

With so much happening in the contact centre world, the thought of planning ahead can be daunting and 2019 has been no ordinary year.  It’s been one of immense transformation, for example take Artificial Intelligence (AI). As the industry cuts through the jargon and dispels the myths, we are seeing more organisations embrace AI to serve customers and agents. 

Innovative Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools such as chat bots are carving out a great opportunity for contact centres to reduce live assistant responses, leading to huge savings in time and support costs.  With the power to boost agent and customer satisfaction in one go, automation is an agent’s best friend by dealing with routine customer enquiries round-the-clock to improve customer experience (CX) and strengthen brand loyalty. Leaving agents to handle more complex interactions.

This year also saw the launch of Puzzel’s new agent application to remove desktop clutter and to present agents with the right information, without switching screens or resorting to pop-ups.  This single view of customer conversations accelerates an agent’s ability to improve CX all in one place and improves employee engagement into the bargain.

Top 3 predictions for 2020

These are exciting times full of seismic shifts at every turn and for a clearer vision, here are our favourite predictions for 2020:

  1. Agent wellbeing will take centre stage – when Puzzel conducted its recent survey of 100 contact centreprofessionals, an overriding sentiment was that agents are key to delivering a high standard of customer experience.  Happy staff who feel valued are quite simply, better performers.  As a result, we believe that organisations will take greater and more proactive steps to improve agent wellbeing.  These will include clearer communication of expectations, goals and vision coupled with a concerted effort to involve agents in departmental decision-making.  Contact centre leaders will have an even more significant role to play.  They will need to be approachable but lead by example, encouraging collaborative knowledge sharing while making the time to understand the challenges that their agents face and helping out if necessary. 
  2. Smart companies will create collaborative partner eco-systems – cultural wellbeing will extend to the way organisations work with partners.  There will be a definite shift from volume to collaborative working.  Rather than recruit 100s of new channel partners, forward-thinking companies will truly engage with partners that complement their services.  It’s a practical approach that will give companies the freedom to generate new revenue streams in their own way while effectively protecting margins and ensuring their offering stands apart from the competition.  This new collaborative partner eco-system model will provide everything organisations need to build a contactcentre where employees, their customers and the business flourish.
  3. Technology for the hybrid workforce – contact centres are already seeking to blend the best that man and machine have to offer to drive operational efficiencies and customer engagement.  As the trend for combining agent intelligence with automation continues, the focus will be on building a hybrid workforce.  For example, the latest application of Chatbots maximises AI learning from the contact centre and other parts of the business, to provide agents with the real-time knowledge they need to resolve customer interactions.  This new breed of Virtual Personal Assistants or ‘bot buddies’ will give employees an opportunity to boost their performance and grow their careers. 

It’s time to plan for the year ahead. Why not use these 3 predictions as a sounding board to prepare for your best contact centre ever?

Millennials and Gen Zs ‘driving digital-first customer experience’

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The third annual 2019 NICE inContact Customer Experience (CX) Transformation Benchmark has detailed how understanding younger generations’ use of and expectations around next-generation solutions like artificial intelligence (AI) and digital channels are fundamental to building exceptional, best-in-class customer experiences.

As Millennials and Generation Z become dominant consumer groups, with Generation Z purchasing already reaching an estimated $100 billion according to research conducted by Barkley, their comfort level and familiarity with multiple digital channels including social messaging and chatbots means organizations, no matter their size, must provide digital-first omnichannel experiences to meet consumer expectations and effectively compete in the experience economy.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Almost 60% of Generation Z and Millennials have used private social messaging for customer service. In contrast, 38% of Gen X, 19% of Baby Boomers and 16% of Silent Generation have done so.The majority of Generation Z and Millennials also want companies to allow them to interact with customer service using private social messaging apps (72% and 69%, respectively).
  • Consumers are using AI more and feeling more positive about chatbots over time.Half of all consumers have used AI for any purpose (50%), compared to 2018 (45%). This can be attributed to a significant increase in the use of an automated assistant/chatbot online (34%, up from 25% in 2018). Generation Z and Millennials are more likely to agree that chatbots make it easier and quicker for their issues to get resolved, and are also the most likely of all generations to have used all forms of AI for any purpose, as well as for customer service.
  • Half of consumers who start with AI are transferred to a live agent, and age is a significant factor when it comes to AI and the importance of the human touch. While chatbot usage and performance are improving – and preferences and attitudes are changing – most consumers want to be informed if they are using a chatbot (92%) and 91% of all consumers prefer a live agent. However, this preference follows a downward trend generationally: 98% of the Silent Generation, 96% of Baby Boomers, 91% of Generation X, 86% of Millennials and 83% of Generation Z say they prefer a live agent.
  • Seamless digital-first omnichannel experiences are vital to positive customer experiences.Most consumers (93%) want seamless omnichannel experiences, and yet they are increasingly giving companies a poor rating on seamlessly switching between channels – 73% give companies a poor rating, up from 67% in 2018. This is especially important for meeting and exceeding the expectations of Millennials and Generation Z, who are the most likely to have experienced omnichannel customer service (16% and 21%, respectively).

“Understanding the nuances of what consumers expect, and how they actually engage with brands via a myriad of digital channels, and integrating these in-demand channels seamlessly to deliver digital-first omnichannel experiences, is key to sustainable growth,” said Paul Jarman, NICE inContact CEO. “The NICE inContact CX Benchmark looks beyond education around demographic customer service trends and gets to the root of what makes new channel options attractive. Millennials and Generation Z are bellwethers of what consumers expect and are increasingly likely to recommend a company on social media based on personal experiences – the influence they wield is tremendous.”

Click here to read the full report.

How hyper personalisation can unlock the seamless customer experience

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Companies failing to provide a hyper personalised experience for their customers will quickly find themselves losing business, argues Matthew Chadd, Senior Project Director at Content Guru.

More than two thirds of companies now compete on the basis of customer experience. Customer service is the competitive differentiator, and it is essential now more than ever to maintain brand loyalty and meet business goals. Companies can face losing customers if they don’t keep up with the ever-increasing standard of service expected of them.

Delivering superior service is particularly challenging during spikes in the volume of customer contact. Human agents on their own cannot manage these peaks, let alone deliver a consistent and personalised customer experience. Long call queues and fragmented customer engagement lead to disappointed customers, reputational damage and ultimately financial losses. 

Why does hyper personalisation matter? 

Hyper personalisationis a way for companies to provide a bespoke customer service by using real-time behavioural data from multiple channels to react to consumer decisions and tailor the experience appropriately.

Although many businesses hold a wealth of data, they often lack the tools to use it to provide a tailored customer experience. Artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligent automation technologies can revolutionise the way businesses use data to deliver hyper personalisation across all interfaces and channels.

An example of this is where utility companies use a phone number to identify which customer is contacting them and the location of their property. If there is an outage in their area, they are directed to an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) recording which provides them with instant access to information about the situation. The customer’s enquiry is answered automatically, leaving human agents to focus on dealing with more complex customer queries.

Hyper personalisation requires deep integration

To deliver the best results, AI-driven hyper personalisation requires integrated front-end and back-end IT systems. Businesses often hold customer data across multiple channels and systems. If these systems remain disparate, organisations end up with data siloes and miss out on invaluable insights which can improve customer service. Deep integration means that data can be processed and leveraged to personalise the customer experience throughout every interaction. 

For example, a life insurance company holding records of past customer interactions in its back-end systems will see that a customer calling in might have recently lost a family member. This information will be fed into the front-end with prompts during a customer call. A human agent handling the query will be encouraged to express condolences and demonstrate empathy to help build a relationship.

A blended approach to contact centre transformation

While technology is the driving force behind hyper personalisation, the role of human agents cannot be overlooked. The success of a hyper personalisation strategy relies on a blended approach that maximises the potential of both IT and the human touch.  For instance, sentiment analysis can detect if a person is getting agitated or angry with the machine agent and route the call to a human agent that has specialised skills to deal with calls of that nature. 

AI-driven hyper personalisation enables companies to meet customer demand for a seamless, consistent experience. In order to achieve this successfully, the technology must be deeply integrated into an organisation’s existing data, and function as an extension of the human agent. A blended approach to hyper personalisation is a key ingredient for enhanced customer service. Failing to achieve a personalised experience can cost a business its edge – don’t get left behind. 

G3 Comms and Connect Manage Services merge

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G3 Comms and Connect Managed Services have merged, creating a new Customer Experience (CX) and Unified Communications (UC) managed services provider, backed by Apiary Capital.

The new group will be one of the largest of its kind in the UK, generating annual turnover in revenues in excess of £55 million.

Since the LDC-backed MBO in 2015 Connect has achieved strong growth, with turnover at £30 million in 2018. Connect currently supports clients such as BP, Diageo and Johnson & Johnson. The new merger marks a successful exit for LDC.

Turnover for G3 for the year to April 2019 was in excess of £20 million. Clients include Morningstar and Volkswagen.

Connect’s Alex Tupman and Martin Cross will head up the group as CEO and CTO respectively, with G3’s James Arnold-Roberts and Adam Young, who will become group Managing Director and COO respectively. 

Industry veteran Mark Thompson will be appointed as Chairman, with G3 co-founder, Tony Parish, as non-executive director.

Group CEO, Alex Tupman, said: “Our objective is to create a highly scalable and focussed business that can support the needs of a far greater and more diverse customer base, located within both the UK and abroad.

“The merger of G3 and Connect brings together two businesses with highly complementary capabilities which will enable our combined clients to derive significant benefits from the newly acquired skills provided by the enlarged team, together with the ability to offer an extended portfolio of specialist and proven products and services.”

James Arnold-Roberts, CEO of G3, said: “We are really excited to be joining forces with Connect. The combination of the two businesses will bring even greater benefit to our existing customers while our emerging scale will allow us to reach new prospects both here in the UK and around the world.

“When we looked at Connect’s capabilities alongside our own – including our dedicated global network infrastructure – it was clear that this was the perfect fit.”

Nicki Boyd, Apiary Capital partner, commented: “We are delighted to be supporting the compelling merger of Connect and G3.  Alex and James have a shared vision of building a platform of significant scale in the market they both serve so well.

“We believe this is just the start of an exciting and highly productive collaboration and it is fantastic to be working with experienced and likeminded people who are totally aligned with our goals and objectives.”

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Retail failing at social media for customer service

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Retailers are neglecting social media when it comes to customer service, and are not listening to consumers to drive customer experience improvements.

That’s according to the 2019 Eptica Digital Trust Study, which found that while retailers successfully answered 59% of routine queries asked via web self service, chat, email, Facebook and Twitter, there were wide variations in performance between channels.

Retailers provided answers to 83% of queries on their websites but only responded correctly to 38% of tweets and 50% of Facebook messages.

Performance had worsened on many channels since 2017 – then retailers answered 73% of emails. By 2019 this had dropped to 68%, despite the continued popularity of the channel with consumers, who use it for over a quarter of their interactions with brands.

As part of the 2019 Eptica Digital Trust Study, 20 fashion and food & drink retailers were evaluated on their digital customer experience, alongside brands from other sectors, by testing their accuracy and speed at answering relevant, routine queries, repeating research conducted since 2012.

Questions included asking about ethical sourcing policies (fashion) and allergy labelling (food and drink). Additionally, 1,000 consumers were asked for their views on customer experience.

Fashion (answering 60% of all queries) and food and drink (59%) were the top sectors surveyed, but still failed to respond to 4 in 10 of all routine queries.

The research also demonstrated a direct link between trust, listening and loyalty. 89% of consumers surveyed said they either will stop buying from brands that they don’t trust or will spend less. Building trust begins with delivering on basic promises – 59% ranked giving satisfactory, consistent answers as a top three factor in creating trustworthiness, while 63% rated making processes easy and seamless as key. Just 8% of consumers felt that brands were listening to them all of the time, with 74% believing brands pay attention to their views half the time or less.

“The move to digital has transformed the retail landscape,” said Olivier Njamfa, CEO and Co-Founder, Eptica. “Greater choice means consumers are becoming more demanding and are actively seeking out brands that they can trust and who listen to them. While retail brands have made some improvements since 2017, they have slipped back in others, damaging trust and ultimately customer loyalty and revenues. If they want to succeed they need to listen to customers and use their insight. Only those who do this will thrive and stay ahead of the competition.”

RetailAccuracy 2019
versus 2017
Average speed 2019
versus 2017
Web83% vs 70%n/a
Email68% vs 73%10hr 19m vs 24hr 12m
Facebook50% vs 28%43m 24s vs 3hr 34m
Twitter38% vs 50%1hr 56m vs 1hr 43m
Chat35% vs 25%8m 43s 4m 24s
Total59% vs 55%

Speed of response also varied widely between channels – and even within sectors and brands. One fashion retailer answered a tweet in 17 minutes, yet another took 50 hours to reply. A food and drink retailer responded on Facebook within one minute, but needed nearly 23 hours to provide an answer on email.

Overall response times on chat doubled from 4 minutes back in 2017 to 8 minutes this year. Facebook had the fastest average speed of response, at 43 minutes, 24 seconds – over twice as fast as Twitter (1 hour 56 minutes) and nearly 15 times faster than email (10 hours 19 minutes). This is despite exactly the same questions being asked across these channels.

The study evaluated 50 UK brands, split equally between the fashion, food and drink, travel, insurance and banking sectors. Brands were rated on their ability to answer five routine questions via their websites, as well as their speed, accuracy and consistency when responding to email, Twitter, Facebook and chat.

Additionally, 1,000 UK consumers were surveyed on their attitude to trust, its relationship with customer experience and on loyalty and brand reputation. All research was completed in H1 2019.

A full report, including the study results, graphics and best practice recommendations for brands to transform customer experience is available at https://www.eptica.com/19cxretail.

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